Martin v. Earling Grain and Feed, 020721 IAWC, 5064897

Docket Nº5064897
Case DateFebruary 07, 2021
No. 5064897
Iowa Workers Compensation
Before the Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner
February 7, 2021
         Head Note Nos. 1804, 2502, 2907           ARBITRATION DECISION           JAMES F. CHRISTENSON DEPUTY WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSIONER          STATEMENT OF THE CASE          Claimant, Ricky Martin, filed a petition in arbitration seeking workers’ compensation benefits from Earling Grain and Feed, Inc. (Earling), employer and Fireman’s Insurance Company of Washington, D.C., insurer, both as defendants. This matter was heard in Des Moines, Iowa on October 15, 2019, with a final submission date of March 2, 2020.          The record in this case consists of Joint Exhibits 1-8, Claimant’s Exhibits 9-17, Defendants’ Exhibits A-E, and the testimony of claimant and his wife, Julie Ann Martin.          The parties filed a hearing report at the commencement of the arbitration hearing. On the hearing report, the parties entered into various stipulations. All of those stipulations were accepted and are hereby incorporated into this arbitration decision and no factual or legal issues relative to the parties’ stipulations will be raised or discussed in this decision. The parties are now bound by their stipulations.          ISSUES          Whether claimant has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).          The extent of claimant’s entitlement to permanent partial disability benefits.          Costs.          FINDINGS OF FACT          Claimant was 50 years old at the time of hearing. Claimant graduated from high school. Claimant has spent most of his work life as a truck driver. Claimant also worked for a security company from 2010 through 2016, when his problems with macular degeneration did not allow him to drive a truck. (Exhibit 12, pages 211-212; Transcript pp. 58-59) Claimant’s prior medical history is relevant. In 2001 and 2003, claimant had work-related back injuries. (Joint Ex. 9, p. 182) From 2010 through 2016, claimant was on Social Security Disability due to the macular degeneration condition that prevented him from driving a truck. The record indicates claimant’s vision condition improved with treatment and claimant returned to truck driving in 2016. (Ex. D, pp. 10; Ex. E, p. 26; Ex. 9, p. 196; Ex. 12, p. 212) Claimant began working for Earling in May of 2017. Claimant’s job involved driving a truck and loading and unloading the truck.          On July 21, 2017, claimant was driving from Denison, Iowa. Another vehicle stopped in front of him and claimant went off the road into a field. Claimant said he kicked open the door of the truck cab and got out of the truck and collapsed. Claimant testified he lost consciousness. (Tr. pp. 70-71) Claimant said the next thing he recalled was waking up in the emergency room of a hospital. (Tr. p. 71) Claimant’s wife testified the accident totaled the semi-truck. (Tr. p. 39) Claimant was evaluated at the Myrtue Medical Center on the date of injury. (Jt. Ex. 1, p. 2) Claimant had a laceration over the left eye and complained of headaches. Records seem to indicate that claimant had no loss of consciousness, although this is not entirely clear. (Jt. Ex. 1, p. 2; Ex. E, pp. 30-31) Claimant underwent a CT scan of the head and a chest x-ray. The chest x-ray was normal. The CT scan showed a left periorbital and right frontal scalp hematoma. (Ex. 1, pp. 5-8) Claimant was released from the hospital on the date of injury. Claimant was evaluated by R. Adam Bendorf, M.D. on July 25, 2017. Claimant had bruising on the lower back and pain in the left wrist and a headache with nausea. Claimant was assessed as having a brain concussion and a sprain of the left wrist. (Jt. Ex. 1, pp. 9-11) Claimant went to the Manning Regional Health Emergency Room on July 26, 2017, with complaints of nausea and headaches. Claimant was taking Tramadol for pain. Claimant was assessed as having nausea, vomiting and headaches and post-concussive symptoms. (Jt. Ex. 2, pp. 14-15) Claimant returned to Dr. Bendorf on July 28, 2017. Claimant still had some soreness in his lower back and left wrist, but thought he could return to work on July 31, 2017. Dr. Bendorf released claimant to return to work without restrictions. (Jt. Ex. 1, p. 12-13)          Claimant returned full time to work with Earling on July 31, 2017. Claimant’s wife, Julie Martin, testified claimant did see a chiropractor for some back and hip problems after his return to work.          Ms. Martin testified she noticed differences in claimant after his injury and his return to work. She said claimant had memory difficulty. She said claimant would forget to shower and he would forget to pay bills. She said that prior to the accident, her husband was relatively happy. After the accident, claimant was easily agitated and began distancing himself from family members. (Tr. pp. 15-17) Claimant worked for Earling until November 28, 2017, when he was laid off. Claimant found other work. The record indicates claimant worked a few days for Flatbed Express. Claimant got into a yelling match with a crane operator and was fired. (Tr. p. 18) Claimant then went to work for a trucking company in Council Bluffs. Claimant worked for the Council Bluffs firm for a few weeks but got into an argument with a supervisor and was fired after he slammed the supervisor against a truck. (Tr. p. 19) Both claimant and his wife testified this aggressive behavior was not something claimant had shown on prior occasions. (Tr. pp. 19-20, 75) Claimant applied for a third trucking job. Claimant was not hired by that employer because he was unable to pass a DOT physical due to his vision and high blood pressure. (Jt. Ex. 3, pp. 17-18; Tr. p. 20) Claimant has not worked anywhere else since December 2017. (Tr. p. 20) Claimant has not looked for work since failing to pass the DOT physical.          On February 14, 2018, claimant was evaluated by Morgan LaHolt, M.D. with Madonna Rehabilitation Specialists. Claimant was assessed as having a traumatic brain injury from a motor vehicle accident with cognitive, emotional, and somatic complaints. Claimant was prescribed medication and recommended to have counseling and medication management. Claimant’s symptoms were consistent with a post-concussive syndrome...

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